The Clarence Stenberg Family

The Clarence Stenberg Family

by: Charles Young

Clarence, married Polly Strickland in Eaton, Colorado. Clarence was 23 and Polly was 21 years old when they married. Clarence and Polly lived most of their lives in Colorado. Clarence taught at Seventh Day Adventist colleges including Caribbean Union College at Port of Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies from 1935 to 1941. Kent and Idabel were born on the island of Trinidad. Polly was the family historian of her generation. She kept in touch with relatives by visiting and exchanging letters (almost a lost art). She made notes of marriages, births, and deaths. Many of the names and dates I know are from notes she made.

Stennie and Polly's camp trailer at camp site
Stennie and Polly camping
1931 Model A with trailer

Idabel Dare Stenberg Farr wrote;

"in the 'Forties when my brother Kent and I were children, our father taught at Campion and we listened to him preach many times. However, my father was never an ordained minister—he would have been called Elder Stenberg if he had been. I heard people comment on this many times."

When I was a little girl, mother told me that my father became the man of the family at age ten earning money doing a paper route with his bicycle. Mother told me he came home after delivering papers just before Christmas and had received twenty-five dollars in tips. This was a sizable amount at the time and mother said he didn't anticipate this.

Kent told me on the phone recently that Daddy took him driving above Boulder when Kent was about ten. Daddy told Kent that when he was about eleven, he made money by driving a team of horses for someone who cut ice at a lake above Boulder. This was an overnight trip (or maybe two nights) and Daddy would drive about fifteen miles into the mountains, pick up big blocks of ice and then drive the team back to Boulder. The ice was covered in straw and was used until the next summer. Kent still remembers the exact area our father showed him.

When Clarence was fifteen and a half, he took the train from Boulder to Campion and registered for school at the Academy. He went to work on the farm the very first day he was there. Ida paid some of his schooling costs but he worked a great deal of his way through high-school. A generation later our parents paid for all of Kent's and my grade-school and high-school tuition. I think I was paid 37 cents an hour during the 1955-56 school year for the small amount of work I did at the Campion library.

Even when I was in grade-school I knew I didn't have my father's work ethic and was very guilty about it. When I was eight and nine I would take advantage of my folks by charging sodas at Keller's store. I did this each day during the summer and it concerned me—but I didn't seem to be able to do anything about it. I was thirsty every day and really craved those cold sodas.

During the 'Forties Seven-Up cost five cents a bottle, and when it went up to seven cents we thought it was unbelievably expensive. Stamps were three cents and postcards were a penny."

Thanks to Idabel for transcribing some of her father's handwritten school papers:

MY EARLY LIFE, a composition by Clarence Edwin Stenberg

The very first thing that I remember is that my mother used to bring Strawberries in from the garden for me to eat. I don't know how long it was before papa began to hold tent meetings but I do remember that the big tent blew down and that it took several days to put it up again.

Soon after this we moved to Mitchel, South Dakota. I remember two things that happened there. The first happened just after I had my hair cut. I started to run out of doors but fell down the cellar on the way. I have a scar on my head to remember that by. The second thing I recall is that papa and momma talked about getting some chickens. I went out and told two of the neighbor boys. They said they were glad because they could steal them. We went to camp meeting and I still hold a picture in my mind of a large snake that was lying on the ground with a stick punched through its head.

When I was five years old we moved to a ranch in eastern Colorado. This country is a barren stretch of prairie. As far as the eye could see there was neither a rise nor a fall in the level ground to break the monotony of that scene. But the cactus covered prairie stretched from the north to the south, and from the east to the west until at last it blended with the horizon many miles away. But although this country was desolate, there were many animals. There were prairie dogs by the hundred that barked saucily if any one came near their holes. Rattle snakes were frequently found. There were far too many rabbits and an over-abundance of coyotes.

I used to play I was a rancher. I used corn cobs for horses and cows. I also marked out small sections of land. I built a small fence around part of one of these sections. The rest I left open for range. We lived three miles from any school house but two weeks before Thanksgiving when I was nearly nine years old, papa decided I should start school. Note that my father started school when he was almost nine. We butchered a calf the day before I was to start. Papa told me I should clean the blood up the next day but I told him I was going to go to school and I could not. When I started the teacher gave me a chance to read with the first grade, but I could not read so she made a class for me. Soon after this I was able to go into the first grade, and after Christmas I went into the second grade.

Papa improved the opportunity of breaking colts to drive while he was taking me to school. One morning the colt we were hitching up got scared. She jumped and kicked, pulling the wagon zig-zag all over the corral. The next morning we hitched another colt up. We had just driven outside the gate when this colt also got scared. She started to run and kick. She could run faster than the horse she was with and it was hard to keep them in the road. After they had run about a half-mile papa got them stopped.
[Teacher's note in red ink—“Were you frightened?”]

We had a sale in February and went to Iowa. After spending a year there we came back to good old Colorado. My Father was killed in an accident the next fall. It did not seem possible to me that he was really dead but I gradually realized that it was true.

I spent the next summer in Palisades, Colorado. I drove a team almost all the time. A year later I took a job on a homestead north of Greeley for a short time. I killed two rattle snakes in the one week I was out there. I also saw at least a dozen antelope. An antelope has a very big white tail and it was all I saw of most of them. One day while I was setting posts I saw one chasing a coyote. The antelope would stand and let the unfortunate coyote get about a block away. Then when he made a desperate dash for freedom the antelope would charge with lightning speed upon him. When close to the exhausted beast, the antelope would try to trample the coyote to death with his front feet, but the cunning coyote always dodged quickly to the side and made a feeble attack at the unguarded side of the antelope. I watched them for at least fifteen minutes until they disappeared over a hill. The coyote was game to fight to the last, although certain to meet death in the end. The antelope, patient and persevering, would some time settle his sharp hooves upon the coyotes skull.

Last summer I worked on a farm. I planned to come to school up here at Campion. I spent much time imagining what things would be like. Finally the summer was past and I came. We had just gotten started here when the chapel burned down. The rest of the year has passed without event so far.

Idabel wrote:

After the chapel burned down, a temporary building, Liberty Hall, was constructed so the school year could continue for the high-school students, most of whom lived in the two dormitories. Campion has always been a twelve-grade school. Clarence graduated in the Class of 1923 and was president of his Senior Class.

At our Mother's Funeral at Campion in October of 1989, a woman we had never seen before, spoke very lovingly and with a great deal of feeling about my Father's summer of colportering (selling Adventist books). I'm guessing Daddy was about twenty at the time. Because of this she came to Campion to go to high-school and then followed Adventist teaching for the rest of her life. Her son Dan was my classmate at Campion during the 'Fifties."

You can view photos of Clarence as a boy and young man on his parents' page, and he appears in a photo with his uncle Fred.

In 2010 Kent Stenberg wrote:

"I live in Kingman, Arizona now and I do enjoy being in a town with 'elbow room' and long sight lines to the horizon. We look to the north and see the mountains that overlook the Grand Canyon where the Sky-Walk gives you breath-taking view."

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